OLQM Centennial Journal


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Centennial Journal, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs

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Our Lady Queen of Martyrs 1912-2012 Centennial Journal Years of Gratitude


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Congratulations and Best Wishes to The Centennial Anniversary of OUR LADY QUEEN OF MARTYRS CHURCH SIXTO A. SIASOCO, M.D. FAMILY MEDICINE 415 Port Washington Boulevard Port Washington, N.Y. 11050 ( 516 ) 883-0218 and ( Simeona-David-Siascoco ) MEDICAL CENTER Katipunan Avenue, Corner Pio Del Pilar. Concepcion II, Marikina City PHILIPPINES SDS MEDICAL CENTER AMPARO SIASOCO SERRANO M.D. ADMINISTRATOR


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Our Lady Queen of Martyrs 100 Years of Gratitude Centennial Journal 1912 - 2012


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Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Forest Hills, New York Celebrating 100 Years To all the dedicated priests, sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, religious, laity and staff members, past and present, who have had a special bond of appreciation and love for this parish Moderator: Fr. Francis J. Passenant Contributors: Manny Lima, Deacon Greg Kandra and the OLQM bulletin archives Photo contributor: Rosalind Chan Photo credit (previous page): Ted Kellerman InDesign team: Karen Brogno and Lorraine Garvilla


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November 2012 Dear People of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, I give praise to Almighty God for the wonderful blessing of having been assigned by The Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn, to this Parish of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, Forest Hills, in this year when we celebrate the 100th anniversary of this community of Roman Catholic faith. Our anniversary celebration coincides providentially with the Year of Faith proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI for the Roman Catholic Church throughout the world. I rejoice with all of you as we recall the foundations of this Catholic community beginning with Father Joseph McLaughlin and continuing with the sacrifices and contributions of so many priests, religious and dedicated men and women. The education in the Catholic faith of countless individuals through our school and religious education program has been a special blessing that this parish has been able to provide through the years. The prayerful and reverent celebration of the Church’s liturgy has been a special grace for me since my arrival here last summer. I have been nourished spiritually by our shared participation in the Sunday and daily Eucharist. The involvement of well-trained liturgical ministers, altar servers and choir members demonstrates clearly a love for our communal Catholic life of prayer and faith. I am grateful to all of you for the warm welcome which you have extended to me and, in particular, for the consoling support which you proffered at the recent celebration for the funeral of my brother Larry in October. My prayer is that we will all continue to grow in our life of faith and service after the example of Our Lord Jesus Christ. May Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, our patroness, continue to intercede for us before Almighty God! May the good Lord enable us to grow as vibrant witnesses of our Catholic faith and so build the foundation for the next 100 years of hope and prayer. With every best wish and with a blessing, I remain, Sincerely in Christ, Most Reverend Paul R. Sanchez, D.D. Pastor Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn


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Dear Friends, As we celebrate this joyous anniversary, and look back on all that has unfolded within our parish family over the last century, I can’t help but wonder what those who came before us would think. The families who gathered in that house on Meteor Street 100 years ago for the first Mass in Forest Hills could not have imagined that one day their little community would grow into a flock of thousands. They could not have dreamed of the beautiful church we now call our home, or the great school, rectory and convent that make up our parish today. They could not have fathomed how many lives would be shaped, how many hearts would be consoled, how many spirits would be lifted by the prayers, novenas, Masses and sacraments shared within these church walls. And they could not have foreseen all the joys and sorrows that the last century would bring—and how this parish would gather together again and again in moments of great testing, and great triumph, to offer petitions and praise to Almighty God. No, 100 years ago, they could not have known the extraordinary legacy they were beginning for us. But today, we look to those first parishioners with heartfelt gratitude and turn to our heavenly Father with prayers of thanksgiving. We have been truly blessed. I speak often about the heroes of this parish, those who came before us and gave so much so that we can gather at this time in prayer and celebration. They are in my prayers at every Mass. But so are all of you: my friends and neighbors, the next generation of heroes, who continue to keep this church of “living stones” thriving and growing. Your generous faith and sacrifice have been an inspiration to me over the last 12 years, and I know it will be long remembered by those who come after us. As we embark on the second century of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, I hope that we will never forget where we came from, and the great devotion and faith that guided Father Joseph McLaughlin and his small flock 100 years ago. Entrusting you and all those you love to the special care of our Blessed Mother, I pray that God will continue to bless this parish. May the faith of our founders continue to inspire us all. And may God’s grace and the intercession of His Mother lead all of us to lives of greater holiness, fidelity and love. Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, pray for us! Love in Christ, Msgr. Joseph A. Funaro


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Our Lady Queen of Martyrs 100 Years of Gratitude I 1912-2012 n the beginning, it was wilderness. There were no trains, no subways. A ragged road called Hoffman Boulevard led people out to the eastern reaches of Long Island. The borough called “Queens” was a relatively new phenomenon—it had only been incorporated in the 1890s—and the land it occupied was primarily devoted to farms and undeveloped fields. Until 1906, the neighborhood was known by the unglamorous name of “Whitepot.” In 1906, developer Cord Meyer bought up a patch of 600 acres and christened it “Forest Hills,” for its proximity to Forest Park. The Cord Meyer Company set out to develop Forest Hills into a suburban oasis outside of Manhattan. A portion of it was to become Forest Hills Gardens, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., to resemble an English garden community. There would be single-family homes, and garden apartments, and eventually a railroad station. Roads would be neatly laid out and given alphabetical names, with avenues running from Atom through Zuni. In 1912, most of that was still years away. But the area was beginning to grow. People who began to venture into the wilderness of Forest Hills, to build homes on the north side of Hoffman Boulevard (later renamed Queens Boulevard) wanted more than just housing. They wanted a community. For Catholics, that could mean only one thing: They needed a church. The rest, of course, is history.


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1912-1917 November 13, 1912: Permission Given for Sunday Mass in Forest Hills Our Parish Origins November 24, 1912: Catholics Gather for First Sunday Mass in Forest Hills With Bishop McDonnell’s permission, Mrs. Margaret Dealy offered her home (70 Meteor Street, now 108-37 68th Drive) for Sunday Mass until a chapel was built. Three years later, the bishop authorized the purchase of a plot of land for a chapel near the corner of Ascan Avenue and Queens Boulevard, “not exceeding $14,000 in cost,” according a press report. Bishop Charles E. McDonnell served as Brooklyn’s second bishop from 1892 to 1921. He convoked three diocesan synods, encouraged the building of Catholic schools and created ethnic parishes to meet the spiritual needs of Catholic immigrants. Following a census of Catholics in Forest Hills in March 1912—counting 60 adults and 18 children—Bishop McDonnell granted permission for Holy Mass to be celebrated on Sundays. May 28, 1916: Dedication of the Original Chapel Built at a cost of $3,846, the Chapel of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs was dedicated by Bishop McDonnell. It could seat 250 people and would serve as the center of worship for the parish for more than a decade, until April 29, 1929, when it was destroyed by a fire. Milestones in OLQM history: Bishop McDonnell, Mrs. Margaret Dealy and the original 1916 white chapel. Bishop McDonnell later appointed Fr. McLaughlin as our first pastor.


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was named pastor on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Sorrows, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs. On September 29, he wrote to Bishop McDonnell thanking him for the parish assignment. Fr. McLaughlin took up residence at the Forest Hills Inn and served as pastor for almost 43 years. September 15, 1917: Fr. Joseph McLaughlin Venturing into the wilderness of Forest Hills, Catholics wanted a community—and they needed a church. McLaughlin’s legacy stays with us today: He opened negotiations to purchase more land for the future development of the parish; he opened our school in 1928; and a decade later—before a gathering of 600 assembled to celebrate his 60th birthday and his 35 years in the priesthood— Fr. McLaughlin announced plans to build a new church and rectory.


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1928-1929 September 9, 1928: Opening Days School construction commenced in January 1928 and continued at a rapid pace for eight months. Fr. McLaughlin invited the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) to open our school and signed the school contract with the sisters on September 1. On September 8, 1928, just before opening day, the desks for five classrooms were installed. Our School 1929 (until 1939): School Hall Used as Church Our school hall was set up to seat more than 500 parishioners and serve as church until our present church was built. In 1984, the school hall was renovated and named McLaughlin Hall in honor of our first pastor. From 1928 to 1986, 14 sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary served as the principal. Between 1955 and 1996, 28 sisters in the IHM order taught at the school. The convent was completed in 1953. IHM Sisters left Scranton, Pennsylvania, for Forest Hills to teach at our newly opened school. Sister Maria Assumpta Clifford was the first principal. November 28, 1929: Bishop Molloy Blesses Our School Thomas E. Molloy served as Brooklyn’s third bishop from 1922 to 1956. He founded 90 parishes and 100 schools, including Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Elementary School. As the chief shepherd of the largest diocese in the United States (then encompassing 1.4 million Catholics and including Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island), he received the title “Archbishop” from Pope Pius XII in 1951.


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1936-1939 The Church Construction December 1936: New Church and Rectory Proposed Having assembled all of the property comprising one square block at the corner of Ascan Avenue and Queens Boulevard, Fr. McLaughlin laid out his vision and plan to construct a new church and rectory at a cost not to exceed $365,000. May 18, 1938: Groundbreaking Day Parishioners gathered to watch a steam shovel break ground. Schoolchildren sang hymns and concluded with the “Star Spangled Banner.” Fr. McLaughlin made no formal address; he simply told the operator, “Now do your stuff.” November 5, 1939: New Church Opened for Worship The new church opened for worship within months of the 1939 New York World’s Fair. The formal dedication took place on May 30, 1940, by Archbishop Thomas Molloy. Fr. McLaughlin, visual thinker: His original, handwritten notes set out the vision for our current parish complex. Fr. McLaughlin’s sketch (upper right corner) is courtesy of the Office of the Archivist, Diocese of Brooklyn.


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1940s-1990s Growth, Change and February 3, 1940: The First Wedding at OLQM Edwin McDonald married Margaret Owen, who was the first bride to walk down the aisle of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, establishing a pattern that continues to this day. 1957: Newly Revised Diocese of Brooklyn The post-war baby boom led to a building boom and expansive growth in the suburbs of Nassau and Suffolk counties on the eastern end of Long Island. This demographic shift precipitated a decision to split the Diocese of Brooklyn, which originally included all of Long Island. In the spring of 1957, after the death of Archbishop Molloy the previous fall, Pope Pius XII erected the Diocese of Rockville Centre, which comprised the two eastern counties of Long Island. The Diocese of Brooklyn was now comprised of Kings and Queens counties. That same year, in April 1957, Bishop Bryan J. McEntegart was appointed to preside over the newly revised Diocese of Brooklyn. Bishop McEntegart arranged for Our Lady Queen of Martyrs to host a Diocesan Vocation Rally Mass in March 1958. He also appointed our second pastor. After the death of Msgr. McLaughlin, Bishop McEntegart named Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Denning the new pastor of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs. A native of Flushing, Denning was ordained in 1932. He invited Archbishop Fulton Sheen to speak at OLQM on several occasions between 1962 and 1965. Bishop Denning retired in 1978 and remained in residence until he died in 1990. 1960-1978: Auxiliary Bishop Joseph P. Denning, Pastor As pastor, Bishop Denning guided our parish through the changes following Vatican II. Notice the placement of the altar during the 1958 Vocations Rally Mass (above) and then in the 1970s, when Bishop Denning (shown at right) concelebrated Christmas Midnight Mass.


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New Traditions October 1979: OLQM Connection to Pope John Paul II Bishop Francis J. Mugavero (Bishop McEntegart’s successor) welcomed Pope John Paul II to the Diocese of Brooklyn for a prayer service in Shea Stadium. It was a diocesan event organized by our future pastor—‑Msgr. Joseph A. Funaro, whom Bishop Mugavero had appointed to Catholic Charities. Our Christmas Crèche, a Forest Hills tradition, first displayed during the Christmas season of 1990, brings joy to all passersby. 1992: Anniversary Concert March 1984: School auditorium renamed McLaughlin Hall 1987: RCIA Emerges Fr. James Massa, then newly ordained, implemented the first RCIA course at OLQM. RCIA and Religious Education have since become vital in the life of the parish. Hundreds of adults have received their Sacraments of Initiation through our RCIA program. To mark our 80th year as a parish and the 75th anniversary of the assignment of Fr. McLaughlin, Bishop Thomas V. Daily (Bishop Mugavero’s successor) celebrated Mass at our church, and there was a special concert organized and conducted by Richard Pretzer. As music director, Pretzer conducted many musical events at OLQM. His last concert was December 15, 2002. Three days later, we were saddened by the news of his sudden death. His successor, David Close, continues the Christmas Concert tradition and through the Sacred Music Society has solidified the reputation of our choir. Since the first RCIA course was introduced in 1987, RCIA and Religious Education have assumed positions of great importance among similar programs in our diocese. Our music ministry originated in the 1980s, with Richard Pretzer as music director (shown here at the first concert at OLQM).



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